Released: 2009, Frontiers Records
Woah man, where the fuck did this come from? I know that power metal fans have always wondered what it would be like if Sonata Arctica and Stratovarius had a love-child, but never thought we’d see the day. Well – here it is! Ex-Sonata guys Jani Liimatainen and Mikko Harkin have joined forces with Strato’s Timo Koltipelto, session drummer Jani Hurula (Thyrane), and bassist Jukka Koskinen (Wintersun!, Norther) in this new band, and after listening to GATHER THE FAITHFUL, we can only hope this isn’t a one-off project!
Now, I’ve seen reviews of this album that have praised it as the best album of the year, and I’ve seen others that have savaged it as a crass commercial ploy. Well, based on my score you can guess which side of the fence I’m leaning to, because I’ve enjoyed the hell out of this disc since I first heard it. Granted, the band is certainly pushing it, in terms of its commerciality and pop-infected hooks, but then again, when the music is this damn good I just don’t care. Furthermore, modern power metal, especially the Finnish variety has always been more on the catchy, sing-along side of metal anyway.
With that all said, let’s get to the album. Opening with the soaring “My Queen Of Winter”, Cain’s Offering immediately dig their hooks deep into you, as Kotipelto’s vocals fly over top of one of the best Sonata Arctica songs that Tony Kakko never wrote. Most of the album resides firmly in the mid-paced speed, although the band breaks hyper-speed with “Dawn Of Solace”. Elsewhere, the moody ballad “Into the Blue” is a highlight, along with the insanely melodic “Oceans of Regret” (bad lyrics aside). Really though, picking favorites is pointless as there isn’t a bad song on the album. Sure, “Morpheus in a Masquerade” drags a bit, and the piano-based finale “Elegantly Broken” may not be up to the standards of the rest, but I don’t feel the urge to skip them either.
This is easily the debut album of the year. All fans of power metal should check this out.